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'Pak has made significant progress in fight against terrorism'

March 06, 2010 08:20 IST

Noting that Pakistan has made significant progress in its fight against extremism that threatens its existence, a top United States military general has said that the country's checkered past should be remembered.

"I wouldn't allow you to put words in my mouth," Commander of the US Central Command General David Petraeus told Charlie Rose of the PBS in an interview. Rose had asked him, "So the bottom line is that you are satisfied with the Pakistani effort and the Pakistani cooperation to wipe out the Taliban in Pakistan?"

Rose posed the question to Petraeus when the American General was praising Pakistan for its recent success against the Taliban and the arrest of its top leaders inside the country.

"What I would say is that Pakistan has made significant progress in its fight against the extremists threatening its existence. And there is a growing recognition that the other extremist elements, also in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas, have a symbiotic relationship with the tribal areas threatening them, and over time they are dealing with them as well," Petraeus said.

"But, again, look, we have a checkered past with Pakistan, and we need to be up front about it and recognise it. We've walked away from that country three different times, including after Charlie Wilson's war after we established the Mujahideen," he said, referring to the days of the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, when US took the help of Pakistan and Afghan Mujaheddin against the Russians.

"Our money, Saudi money, others joined together, helped the Inter Services Intelligence, indeed, form these elements which then went in and threw the Soviets out of Afghanistan with our weaponry. And then we left and they were holding the bag," he said, acknowledging that it was the US which helped ISI to form these extremist elements.

Petraeus pointed out that the Kerry-Lugar-Berman legislation promises $1.5 billion non-military aid to Pakistan for the next five years. This aid, he said, is aimed at building trust with Pakistan.

"We have to continue to build the trust, the confidence that we're going to be a constant partner," he argued. General Petraeus, however, acknowledged that the interests of Pakistan and the US differ in Afghanistan. He said Pakistan and the US have the same interest in Afghanistan in not allowing the Al Qaeda to re-establish safe heavens.

"But it also has an interest that is somewhat different than ours, and that is their strategic depth and always has been for a country that's very narrow and has its historic enemy to its east. So again, we just have to appreciate this,"  Petraeus said, in an obvious reference to India.

"This is not unique, of course, just to Afghanistan and Pakistan and throughout the world. We have interests, they have interests. What we want to do is find the conversion interest, understand where they are divergent and try to make progress together," Petraeus said.

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